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Compulsory medical tests for footballers

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Pascalinah Kabi


MASERU — Premier League and A Division players will be required to undergo medical and doping tests beginning next season, the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) has announced.

The shock decision, which was confirmed by Lefa medical committee chairperson Dr Teboho Lekhanya on Thursday, is meant to “minimise the risk of players dying on the field of play”.

“It is not a law as such but we are only suggesting each player must go for compulsory medical tests before engaging in football,” Lekhanya told the Sunday Express.

“We must be able to start the tests by the beginning of the 2010/2011 season. Players must know their fitness levels before they can be allowed to participate at such a high level.”

Lekhanya said depending on the results, players would be advised on the steps to take in order to maintain good health.

“We are going to do basic tests of the heart, lungs and kidneys to ensure the players are fit to play,” he said.

“We will then make recommendations or advise the players depending on the results of their tests. We can even arrange to have a player put in hospital here or in South Africa if his condition is not looking too good.”

Lekhanya stressed the need to take the tests “seriously.”

“These tests must be taken very seriously. We hear of players dying on the pitch in developed countries, and here in Lesotho, the same could happen. If such deaths could happen in countries that have medical experts in the stadiums, what about a country like Lesotho?”

The tests, Lekhanya added, would be done free of charge, with players using the results when seeking international clearances, for instance.

“All medical test records would be kept at the Lefa offices in Maseru but individuals will also have their own copies. The records will help when players are looking at joining clubs outside the country.”

Meanwhile, the new regulation has been met with disapproval from league champions Lioli.

Club spokesperson Moeketsi Pitso told the Sunday Express on Thursday the Berea giants would not support the compulsory testing of any player.

“This is the first time I’m hearing about this but I am sure my team is not going to support this because people’s medical records are confidential,” Pitso said.

“If these tests are done, batho ba kulang bat la be ba sekisetsoa (sick people will be discriminated against) because a player must not be forced to go for medical tests,” he said.

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